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Stalemate in Chinese Chess (AKA XiangQi)

For a western chess player stalemate is a kind of curse or blessing depending on which side one is. If he’s losing the game, clearly a blessing, if he’s winning the game a curse. In XiangQi stalemate is ruled as a win. Yet for a western chess player who’s learning XiangQi, to see the “stalemate idea” is often difficult, because we are prone to look for a checkmate or winning material, and to switch mindset can be difficult.

This article will show many beautiful positions in which the win is achieved by a Stalemate.

Red to move. let’s begin to notice which pieces are pinned and which can be moved, in our quest for the candidate move which will win the game. The horse is pinned by the Red general. The two generals can never see each other. then we notice that one of the advisors can move, so he could be a problem.

1.C2+9 if Black plays K4+1 gets checkmated by R8+7. So Black needs to play 1…C7-1 and now this cannon and the Advisor behind are blocked. Red continues with a check which seems useless: 2.R8+8 only move is K4+1 and the amazing move is: 3.R8-1, why it’s amazing? Because of the idea behind… K4-1 and 4.R8=5!! Red won! Black is in stalemate. All pieces pinned! Let’s see another position:

Red to move, once more we see the General in action. 1.K4=5 pins the advisor in front of the Black General. This leaves Black with only one move: 1…K5=6. And now the end is near, and it’s once more based on not giving Black any possible moves left! 2.C9=4 K6=5 and now we can play few moves: 3.K5+1 or C4+1 or +2 etc. and Black cannot move any piece, hence the stalemate, red won!

There are a lot of interesting stalemate patterns in XiangQi. Red to move: 1.R2+6 giving check. The Advisor is pinned by the Red General. Black is obliged to bring the rook back. 1…R6-3 how to win ??

Simple: 2.R2=3! Now Black has a big problem, the only piece which can be moved is the rook. 2…R6=7 3.P3+1 Black cannot move anything else, red wins.

Also this position is quite interesting for a western chess player. In just one move Red can win, because it blocks the only piece which can move, the Black horse. 1.C7+6 red wins!

I’d like now just to show some positions, and the reader will find pleasure in finding the way to stalemate Black. Red is always moving first. The solution will be found at the end of the article.

Stalemate 5
Stalemate 6
Stalemate 7
Stalemate 8
Stalemate 9


Stalemate 5 1.H1+3 and everything is blocked. Black cannot move the elephant on third because pinned by the red cannon, and the horse on 6th file, is pinned by the red horse.

Stalemate 6 Once more one needs to think upon blocking everything, and it’s done with 1.C3=4

Stalemate 7 Here we can see the only piece which can move is the Black horse, the other pieces when moved would go in front of the king, and that’s impossible because it activates the cannon which would kill the enemy General. The rook controls the 8th rank and prevents the General from moving. Hence the winning move for Red is 1.R9=2 stalemating!

Stalemate 8: We can see an idea which we can use in our games, the idea is to restrict and block the enemy pieces in order to win. 1.C1=8 and now Black can only move the elephant in one place: 1…E1-3 and now we block again and win the game 2.C8+2 stalemate.

Stalemate 9: The Black central advisor is blocked by the Red Horse. if Black moves it, the Red horse takes the general.. The Black horse in front of the general is pinned by the enemy cannon. The elephant on the first rank is the only one which can be moved. 1.C8+9 E3+1 and now the final blow! 2.C8-1 blocking everything.

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